K. and I met for lunch today at the updated River Mill restaurant, where sandwiches and soup have given way to an actual menu. The chef has great imagination and greater ambition; the lunch menu is chock full of dishes more commonly found on a dinner menu and some of the ingredients actually surprised me. Bear in mind....there are routinely hour long waits to eat at the Olive Garden in these parts, so I'm always interested and pleased when someone does something differently in town. I picked the vegetarian lasagna with fresh tomato and cream sauce. It was a little overdone and lacked subtlety, but for a cool day, proved hearty and pleasing for lunch.
It growing late in the hour we considered dessert. For the most part, none of the proffered sweets were tempting (chocolate torte, banana pudding), but one sounded so bizarre I had to try it.
"Deep fried strawberries with dark and white chocolate sauce."
It actually gave me pause.
I've remarked previously about the frying culture of the South. I joke that they can render vegetables unhealthy here. But never in my imagination had I ever considered taking a perfectly good fruit and battering it, frying it, and covering it with even more fattening sauces. Fantastic. So of course I had to order that.
Would that the actual dessert had lived up in taste to the intriguing idea.
I love strawberries. I grew strawberries at one point in a desire to have heirloom strawberries that tasted like strawberries. Strawberries are my go-to easy dessert accompaniment.
But this...NO. Really. NO. In essence, I bit into fried cinnamon and sugar dusted beignet batter covering a too warm and mushy strawberry. NOT a good combination. And apart from not tasting good, I'm sorry, but strawberries look great when they are red and inviting, not brown and beige looking like clumps of little fried fish nuggets.
It's bearing down on midnight and I"m still perplexed. I love battered and fried food and spend a lot of my time happily consuming said foods. But battering and frying a strawberry is right up there in the weird, right alongside deep fried Coke (you think I am joking, don't you?).